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Home Cover Features HAF Mesmerises Hyderabadis!

HAF Mesmerises Hyderabadis!

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HAF Mesmerises Hyderabadis!

Season 4 of Hyderabad Arts Festival, formerly Hydourite, concluded on the last Saturday of June. Every Hyderabadi was a part of the three-month HAF with a host of thought provoking and cultural events criss-crossing the city. We take a look at the conceptualised initiative that celebrates the spirit of Hyderabad.

It was Saturday Night Fever in the last three months that went by (April – June), thanks to Hyderabad Arts Festival (HAF) Season 4 that scripted Fun, Frolic and Entertainment. Apart from entertainment, the HAF venues became a meeting ground of like-minded people and networking. The programmes witnessed large turnout with the end of the annual exams at schools and colleges. There would be very few Hyderabadis, who would not have witnessed any HAF Event, and some Hyderabadis, who would have ticked all the events in the city.

The name of the Festival has been rechristened Hyderabad Arts Festival from Hydourite for wider acceptability and the feeling of ‘My City, My Festival’ concept. Today Hyderabad is home to a vast milieu of people and the Hyderabad Arts Festival belongs to every Hyderabadi. “Hydourite Festival has changed its name to Hyderabad Arts Festival for broader appeal,” say Ramakrishna Achanta, Manoj CS and Capt. Anand, Founder Trustees, Hydourite Foundation.

HAF Mesmerises Hyderabadis!

The three musketeers - A.V. Ramakrishna from Hyderabad, C.S. Manoj from Kerala and Capt. Anand from Chennai, who have made Hyderabad their home, are behind this Spirit of Hyderabad. “It is our undying love for the city that gave birth to Hydourite. We love all kinds of Art Forms and in our zest to bring Good Entertainment on the lines of other popular festivals in the country, we scripted Hydourite,” says the trio in unison.

“It all started with a dream to create a platform for art and culture in the city of the Nawabs and encourage people to come and enjoy it. A dream to start something new that is not money-oriented yet benefits and gives back to the society. And as most big and popular things that all start off with a small thought, a dream and go on to becoming something big…the rest they say is history! It’s the same here, Hydourite now Hyderabad Art Festival has become a signature annual event for the city,” says Manoj.

Hydourite originated in 2012 and the Seasons 1, 2 and 3 had an impressive offering ranging from performances in music, dance, theatre, art shows in formats ranging from classical to fusion and more. The Seasons 1, 2 & 3 of Hydourite were staged  with a little variation in the schedule, from this year onwards the date of the beginning of ‘Hyderabad Arts Festival’ is permanent. “The festival begins on the Second Saturday of April every year and goes on for three months,” they informed. This time many voted to attend HAF events over some exciting ones in the city. Now, it has becomec easy for people to make a notation on their calendars.

Recalling on the plus points of HAF, Manoj says: “The new dimension of the festival this season was its broader appeal and more of a Hyderabad Connect. The festival involved people than having them only as audience. So this year apart from the cultural events, HAF also had two interesting concepts involving the Hyderabadis.”

HAF Mesmerises Hyderabadis!

He states that the first was a set of activities for children and second Photo Competition and Exhibition on the theme ‘My Hyderabad’.

The HAF founder passionately recalls that throughout the HAF Season 4, every week there was an activity for kids – dining etiquettes, kids’ yoga, aquascaping, origami, money management, etc., all conducted by respective subject experts. “Like all HAF events, these activities, conducted by Little Sparks Global, were also free for the enthusiastic children. Participation in the photo contest ‘My Hyderabad’ was open to any Hyderabadi, amateur or professional. Reputed photographers of Hyderabad, Lenny Emmanuel and Arvind Chenji selected the entries displayed at Prasads I-Max theatre. Neosun Photography handled the event for HAF,” says Manoj.

For HAF, another first this year was an international performance staged at Shilpkala Vedika in association with Alliance Française of Hyderabad. “HAF believes that exposure to different cultures is important in the globally connected world of today. HAF jointly with Alliance Française of Hyderabad presented a French production ‘La Foret Ebouriffee’ with French artists performing Dance and Theatre with Multimedia. An event that was lapped up by everyone as none had earlier seen people performing with multimedia in the background,” says Ramakrishna.

Delving deeper, Ramakrishna says choreographer brothers’ Christian and François Ben Aim first piece was created especially for children. “The story revolved around a little boy who fled from the hostile daily life, and took refuge in a forest. The scenography and video projections took the audience on a poetic journey between virtual images and bodies in motion, immersing them into a world that was moving as it was extraordinary,” he says.

HAF Mesmerises Hyderabadis!

Capt. Anand interrupts to add that HAF is a part of the Happening Hyderabad initiative of the Telangana government and had support from the Government of Telangana and many other organisations. “More than 25 companies were associated with HAF this year to make this a successful season and take it to greater heights,” he says.

HAF perfectly fits in the state government’s Happening Hyderabad initiative of making the city a social capital, by hosting three-month of cultural activities. “Hyderabad Arts Festival is one such festival which will contribute for the social capital of the city as time and again Minister K. T. Rama Rao has emphasized it as the need of the hour,” shares Capt. Anand.

Sharing about the popularity of the festival, Manoj says HAF has now become a platform wherein both budding and renowned artistes perform together. “It is something that citizens of the city look forward to attending every Saturday; some even wishing that HAF was a year-long festival. It has become a festival which has something of interest for everyone and is not restricted to a certain genre or type of art or culture, which is why it has garnered such immense popularity in such a short span of time. And it has already become synonymous as the city’s festival,” he says.

Decoding HAF, Manoj says all its events are non-ticketed and free for the audience. “This is done to help more people participate in this festival of Hyderabad and get an opportunity to be a part of it. But that does not mean that these are open and mass events. Depending on the event, the interested people book invitations online, this is a must for entry to an event. This ensures that only the genuinely interested people come and it is an event for the like-minded. HAF brings together the people of Hyderabad and there is something for everybody,” Manoj says.

He quickly adds that the locations for HAF events also vary from star hotels, to auditoriums, to other venues depending on the kind of the event. “Every care is taken to ensure that it is a memorable event for the artist and the audience alike,” he says.

Iconic Charminar became the venue for the soul stirring Qawaali and Sufi music by Jaipur based Sabri brothers. Hosting of HAF event at Charminar was a rare and unique feat, for the sake of promoting arts. “Musical performances at historical places are very rare and they are not very easy to happen. The Qawaali performance at the landmark Monument Charminar, the global icon of Hyderabad, too was special. Given the crowded place it is, it is unimaginable, but, it was a reality,” informs the trio—Ramakrishna, Manoj and Capt. Anand, pillars of Hyderabad Arts Festival.

HAF Mesmerises Hyderabadis!

“The city has not witnessed many events happening at or near or under Charminar.  I know of two events, one hosted by the Government itself and the other by a publishing house in the past. This in true sense is the first public event, where the invitation was open and free, however they needed to book online,” states Manoj.

Hotelier Amar Ohri, who attended the event, said that he didn’t want to miss this rare opportunity of sitting in front of Charminar quietly and listening to Sabri brothers’ music. Cultural performances must be allowed at Charminar, so that the city gets promoted, many who witnessed the event opined.

From one iconic event to another, Jayesh Ranjan, Secretary ITE&C Dept; Andrew McAllister, British Dy High Commissioner; Michael Mullins, Consul General of the US Consulate General and Achim Fabig, Consul General at the German Consultate General, Chennai, discussed the quest for Modern Cities, where some planners were replacing old icons with new ones.  How far it was right was one of the many questions raised in a panel discussion on “The Changing Cities” held at Taj Krishna. The quartet gave suggestions on ‘How can city’s characteristics help in branding of that city?’, How can we develop it without damaging it?, How do we retain and respect heritage?, How do we adapt cleaner and greener technologies?,  How important are culture and arts?, How can the old and new co-exist? among many other issues.

Ghatam artist Padma Bhushan Vikku Vinayakaram’s Saptakshara saw a participation of three generations of artists of the same family performing together on a single platform. Vinayakaram’s eldest son V. Selva Ganesh was on the drums, V. Umashankar, his younger son was at Ghatam, Swaminathan his grandson and son of Selva Ganesh was at Kanjeera and N. Ramakrishnan, his son-in-law was at Mridangam.

HAF Mesmerises Hyderabadis!

HAF has now become a nationally noted festival, where artists are calling up to find out whether they can perform in this annual festival of Hyderabad. Even Dr. S. Karthick, who performed this season was very keen to exhibit his art in front of the younger generation in the next season.

The HAF got off to colourful start on April 9 this year, with ‘Sounds of the Desert — The Manganiar Magic of Music and Dance’, at Shilparamam in Madhapur. The Manganiyars’ classical folk music brought alive the earthy tunes of the deserts. It was magic when Kheta Khan’s mesmerising khartal met the dholak and rustic vocals to present a treat to the soul, while the colourful folk dancers added life to the music. Surely an event that will stay etched in memory of every Hyderabadi.

Rakesh Chaurasia, nephew and disciple of Flute Maestro Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, teamed up with Gino Banks, Satyajeet Talwalkar, Sheldon D’Silva, Sanjoy Das and Sangeet Haldipur, to effectively blend Indian Classical and Global Music to create musical sound seldom heard. There was Folk Rock Fusion Music, when Lagori band performed attracting the young and old alike.

Bengaluru based Shambhavi Dance Ensemble presented a Kuchipudi dance feature, ‘Rani Rudramma Devi’, one of the most prominent woman rulers of the Kakatiya dynasty. This dance feature by Prateeksha Kashi saluted the spirit of Rani Rudramma Devi, who throughout her life continued to be an epitome of beauty and strength.

The penultimate HAF event was in true sense East meeting the West, when Bengaluru-based AGAM Band performed Contemporary Carnatic Rock. AGAM is a multiple award winning contemporary Carnatic rock act. Their music combined the myriad hues of melodic scales and intricate rhythm structures offered by Carnatic music with the aesthetic principles and tonal elegance from western world.

Curtains on the event came after the soulful rendition of ghazals by Pankaj Udhas. With sweetness oozing in his voice, Pankaj Udhas rendered some popular numbers and kept the audience mesmerised with his magical voice. He presented a melodious evening of his choicest ghazals. Due to rains, the venue was shifted indoors, but the programme went on.

HAF Mesmerises Hyderabadis!

The trio says that if Hyderabad has to be projected as the Global City, it must be a culturally active city. “After the full day’s hard work, people need to go to places to unwind themselves, so as to start their business afresh. HAF wants to contribute to this aspect by organising good stream activities year after year,” the trio said in chorus. Many will be aware that all HAF programmes are non-ticketed, and people wishing to attend were asked to reserve their tickets on the website or by phone.

What began as a dream and a humble effort by three passionate art and culture connoisseurs’, who are as Hyderabadi as Hyderabad can be, went on to become India’s Longest Performing Arts Festival, which is no mean feat to achieve.

The Stars of HAF - Ramakrishna, Manoj and Capt. Anand have plans to make this a National Festival in the near future. But to begin with they would like to take small steps at a time and start with a three-day weekend event at different cities. Kudos to Arts and Culture, it is safe and sound in the right hands. The HAF gives you an opportunity to listen to good music and dance, don’t miss it.

HAF Mesmerises Hyderabadis!

Spreading Smiles

In this busy humdrum life, one has no time for oneself. But here HAF has dedicated a Special Day for the underprivileged kids and called it HAF Smiles. On the second Saturday of June, HAF brought smiles on the faces of 300 kids from 10 orphanages by organising a fun-filled carnival. They were treated royally from 10 AM – 5 PM at Ohri’s Hotel Baserra in Secunderabad. Just like guests at any other popular events, the children were welcomed with a welcome drink. There was an anchor who entertained them. There was magic and game shows and also inflatable equipment where the children played and enjoyed themselves. The hotel organized a wide spread for the kids, which they relished. At the end of the day, each kid was given a gift hamper worth Rs. 1,200. “The gift hamper included a school bag, educational and personal hygiene items, among many other things,” says Manoj.

Another interesting aspect of the event here was that for the first time HAF organised a Blood Donation Camp and 40 people donated blood. This request came from the Thalassemia and Sickle Cell Society as there is always need for blood for thalassemia patients at regular intervals.

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